Saturday, January 09, 2016

Novel Craft: Transitions

Hi folks, I'm spending the month of January chewing on novel craft. This week I'm going to talk about transitions. Transitions are about leaving one chapter behind and picking up the thread of the story in the next chapter. Chapters are a convention for ease of reading, but they are more for the novelist. Chapters help you present your story. It's a huge piece of how you keep your reader hooked and longing for more. The way writers keep readers engaged is by devising provocative transitions between chapters. These transitions grab readers attention, plunge them into new action, and ensure complete satisfaction during the reading experience. You might find that some of this transition talk helps you in transitions in your life.

Transitions are about how one chapter ends and the next one begins. Instead of trying to tie everything up in a chapter. You must think of a chapter transitions as a dynamic phase, smack dab in the middle of the action, the epiphany, and/or the relationships.  Transitions are not neat things all wrapped up in bows. A good end transition launches you toward the next chapter. Be prepare to leap in the middle of the mystery. Raise a big question and then just cut off the chapter. Journey toward something audacious but don't arrive, cut off just before that. Stop trying to end things in easy way, Complication, surprise, and turmoil? This is the true stuff of transition.

Now that you have ended the last chapter in a compelling way, it's time to turn the page to the next chapter. You have primed your reader if they had to put the book away until tomorrow. They will be thinking about the chapter all day. They must see that next page. So how do you get that next chapter going. Some transitions are easier than others. If the next chapter is in the same time frame. The next step is logical. It's usually about dialogue and a twist. It's the the transitions that require a jump that are harder, mainly because it causes the writer to leap. My recommendation, don't get bogged down with time, but launch immediately into the heart of what is important in your story. It might be musing from your main character. It might be at the next point in time that stuff is going down. The important thing is not being trapped in the minutia of time change, setting change, and interior thoughts. Cut to what is most interesting, upsetting, or exciting.

Last, it's important transitions build satisfaction, but that does not mean complacency. It's important that readers feel like they are on a journey. Transitions keep your story from being a series of episodes. They are glue for the overreaching arc. How? Stories need to going somewhere just like our lives need to be going somewhere. We are all looking for a point, even if the point is there is no point. Powerful transitions illuminate.They make the reader feel that this journey is worthwhile. Readers inhabit stories that are nimble, like a mountain goat leaping from one peak to the next--a glorious and amazing sight. Good transitions are fearless, seamless, thoughtful, and thrilling. They make for one satisfying read.

That's a teaspoon of transition chat. I hope something resonates with you. I will continue my novel craft series next week.

Here is a doodle. Veg.

Now for the quote for your pocket:

A lot of people resist transition and therefore never allow themselves to enjoy who they are. Embrace the change, no matter what it is; once you do, you can learn about the new world you're in and take advantage of it. Nikki Giovanni


Me said...

Chapter transitions are the hardest thing for me to do. I so much want to wind up the chapter. I really have difficulty when I'm writing in two different POV's. Not sure I'm going to like doing that. Thanks for the article
Write On!

Molly/Cece said...

Transitions take skill. My best advice read some multiple POV books and look closely at the transitions. Take a favorite book and really map out how the transitions work in terms of the plot. Let's do amazing work this work, Me!